Closing Ceremony of the 18 months Minaret II Initiative
On February 24th a MINARET II regional meeting took place in Beirut, Lebanon entitled “Road to Finance – Nexus Thinking and Decentralisation of Subnational Governments”. The latter was held to mark the closing of an 18-month initiative to strengthen the climate resilience of municipalities in Lebanon, Tunisia and Jordan. The “MENA Region Initiative as a Model of Nexus and Renewable Technologies Project (MINARET)” was carried out in the framework of the Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme, which is implemented by GIZ through the co-funding of the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Context in the MENA Region
The countries in the MENA region face challenges pertaining to rapid population growth, high unemployment and poverty rates, and scarce natural resources. These challenges trickle down to the local governance level and pose a significant burden on municipalities in terms of providing basic services dependent on vital resources such as water, energy, and food.
Mandate, Role and Opportunities for Municipalities to work in WEF Nexus
Cities over the past century have become the driving force of the global economy. With more than half the world's population presently living in cities (UN World Cities Report, 2022), much of the Water-Energy-Food demand occurs at the municipality level. Achieving synergy between water, energy and food is crucial for municipalities to reduce energy consumption, heat output and air pollution, increase water efficiency, and avoid the harmful consequences of the use of fertilizers and pesticides (Minaret Inception Report, 2018). Therefore, policy coherence and complementarities are much needed in view of the increasing competition for resources driven by climate change and growing population.
The Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus approach
The WEF Nexus considers the interlinkages between water, energy and food through a human rights-based approach to development. It focuses on negotiating trade-offs, inspiring compromises, and uncovering synergies to ensure universal access to basic services for all, as set forth in the SDGs and in the face of challenges posed by climate change. It further promotes policy coherence and cooperation between all three sectors at the regional, local, and global level, while assessing alternative resource management, technology, and governance options to promote efficiency in the use of natural resources.
Water, energy and agriculture/food are considered national security issues for Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia, the countries under MINARET Project. These resources are centrally managed by national institutions, while municipalities currently do not play a core role in WEF management and governance.
Nonetheless, sub-national governments can effectively participate in preserving scarce resources. Municipalities have responsabilities to manage and provide core services within parts of the WEF cycle. Hence, they can utilize their financial and administrative autonomy to attract investments and engage directly with communities to promote WEF NEXUS related projects. In that way, municipalities can take the front seat in applying the NEXUS approach to drive sustainable development, raise awareness for resources use efficiency, improve livelihoods, and better manage water, energy and food.
MENA Region Initiative as a Model of NEXUS Approach and Renewable Energy Technologies (MINARET)
The MINARET Initiative is in its second phase and aims to improve livelihoods in the communities by helping municipal governments to secure the funds and develop the necessary skills to run investment projects within the NEXUS framework through a decentralized scheme. The initiative specifically supports municipalities to develop their skills in the fields of climate assessments, integrated resources management, and mobilization of funds to deliver high-quality public services, particularly with regards to policies that affect the usage of WEF resources.
Minaret II Initiative was implemented in five municipalities spread across Tunisia, Lebanon and Jordan. It was carried out in three phases. Phase I comprised comprehensive climate risks assessments and the elaboration of a baseline assessment report, which was carried out in tandem with external experts and municipality staff in order to ensure a transfer of know-how. Phase II foresaw the participatory elaboration of Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans (SECAP) and the application of membership at the Covenant of Mayors. In Phase III a finance expert accompanied the five municipalities to develop 1-2 actions from the Action Plan into financially viable project proposals and included extensive finance readiness and WEF Nexus trainings.
Road to Finance - Nexus Thinking and Decentralization of Subnational Governments
The Regional Meeting ‘Road to Finance’ aimed at presenting the project proposals of each municipality in front of regional and national financing and funding structures. It also aimed at sharing overall experiences (opportunities and difficulties) faced by the municipalities in addressing climate risk challenges and mobilizing funding for counter measures.
The following project proposals were presented:
- Establishment of an integrated central market-place: This project was proposed by both Ajloun, Jordan and Manouba, Tunisia. The market will allow local producers to sell their produce directly to consumers. The market will be solar powered and equipped with greywater treatment units. The treated wastewater will be reused for irrigation purposes.
- Ecosystem Restoration In Sidi Amor Hill: This project was proposed by Raoeud, Tunisia with the aim of developing a national and regional (North Africa) pilot site in order to highlight the interconnections of water, energy, food, forest and biodiversity systems in the Sidi Amor hill in Raoued. The initiative would begin with a Proof of Concept based on the Sidi Amor mausoleum, progressively generating a series of results through the following three components: restoration of the degraded site, entrepreneurship/job creation and a cross-cutting programme of local capacity building in Raoued.
- Installation of a Hydropower Plant: This project was proposed by Semkanieh, Lebanon. The hydropower plant aims to generate electricity for the treatment of wastewater and subsequently re-use it for irrigation. The main objective is to provide an integrated solution to help overcome the current energy, wastewater treatment shortage and the impact the latter has on food security by offering sustainable alternatives.
- Transforming Municipality Buildings to Green Buildings: This project was proposed by Semkanieh, Lebanon. The aim is to transform a municipality building into a green building through a biodiesel production plant. The objective being to mitigate the country’s energy crisis.
- Installation of electric car charging stations and wastewater treatment units for irrigation: This project was proposed by Ma’an, Jordan. The aim is to reduce the GHG emissions emitted from trucks operating with fossil fuel and to sustainably manage wastewater produced from truck washing by reusing it for irrigation purposes within the municipality.
The event was an important step to lobby for more targeted financial and technical support for local governance structures to strengthen their resilience vis-à-vis the effects of climate change. It was particularly significant to mobilise funding for the concrete project proposals that have resulted out of this 18-months long initiative. These fundings will accelerate the initiation of WEF Nexus projects at the local sphere, which aim at increasing access to clean energy while ensuring water and food security. As such, the initiative helps municipalities to address actual community needs and promote socio-economic welfare while reducing trade-offs and sustaining an efficient use of natural resources, thereby improving livelihoods of their population.
- Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme MENA // WEF Nexus and Urban Resilience in the MENA Region
- Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme MENA // A WEF Nexus training for Jordanian municipalities
- Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme MENA // Water-Energy-Food-Nexus Farming Conclusion of Policy Dialogue Sessions in Cairo
- Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme MENA // Minaret II Project: Empowering Municipal Governance for Climate Resilience Using WEF Nexus Approach